The CIRTL Network: Shaping, Connecting, and Supporting the Future National STEM Faculty

Graduate students at research universities will shape the future of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate education in the US. As such, graduate schools of research universities are a critical leverage point for national reform of STEM education.

The CIRTL Network is a learning community of diverse research universities mutually engaged in teaching-as-research activities to prepare future faculty in teaching and learning.

In 2006 CIRTL formed a prototype national network of seven diverse research universities: the University of Colorado at Boulder, Howard University, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Michigan State, Pennsylvania State, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The initial seven CIRTL Network universities produce 7% of the nation’s PhDs in STEM.

Building on the strengths of each institution, we will create CIRTL learning communities and programs both local to each university and across the network. We set a conservative goal of preparing 1,000 future faculty annually for careers fostering STEM learning by diverse student audiences.

The goals of this Network are to:
• Establish interdisciplinary graduate-through-faculty learning communities and programs at the seven network universities, each founded on the CIRTL core ideas and each effectively promoting, supporting, and sustaining the improvement of teaching and learning practice;
• Establish a cross-network learning community by which graduates-through-faculty from across the network are better prepared for teaching as a consequence of the diversity of the universities;
• Foster transitions from network learning communities into faculty positions that sustain the concepts, practices, and attitudes developed by candidates while graduate students or postdocs; and
• Enhance graduate education in teaching and learning at universities beyond the CIRTL Network.

The long-range goal is to produce a national cohort of STEM graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who are launching new faculty careers at diverse institutions and demonstrably improving the STEM learning of all their students.

Ultimately, the impact of this work will be to provide to every undergraduate institution STEM faculty who enable all students to achieve STEM literacy, whose teaching enhances recruitment into STEM careers, and whose leadership ensures the continued advance of STEM education.


Robert Mathieu


Completed on December 31, 2012